UA faces tough test vs. Memphis
Dec. 28, 2007 10:13 PM
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Kevin O'Neill didn't hesitate when he talked about facing No. 2 Memphis on Saturday night at the FedEx Forum.
"It's a great challenge at their place," said O'Neill, Arizona's interim coach. "If we have a chance to win, we'll have to play a great game."
Is No. 17 Arizona (9-2) capable?
Through 11 games, UA has found incredible stretches of success. It came back from double-digit deficits against Texas A&M and Illinois, found a will and a way to defeat Nevada-Las Vegas (52-49) and played then-No. 4 Kansas to the final buzzer with a chance to win in regulation, only to lose 75-72 in overtime on the road.
And although O'Neill wouldn't say this was Arizona's biggest test to date, he did admit that the Tigers were a "legit top-five basketball team."
"We've got to play our best game," he said.
O'Neill joked that one way to beat them is "to get them away from home."
Memphis has won 37 consecutive games at home.
Yet, UA has bought into the challenge.
"It's no secret," senior Jawann McClellan said of what UA needs to do to win. "It's obvious we have to do a good job of playing man to man (defense)."
In the process, he said, the Wildcats have to stop talented junior Chris Douglas-Roberts and freshman Derrick Rose. Then they can't let 6-9 forward Robert Dozier score in double digits.
Dozier is averaging 9.8 points and 6.9 rebounds.
"He had (19) points against Georgetown (last weekend)," McClellan said. "We can't let the other guys (Dozier included) go off on us. Rose and CDR (Douglas-Roberts) are going to get their points, but we can't let the others get theirs."
How can that happen against a team that plays what UA used to play - at a breakneck pace? And against UA, a team lacking the same type and scope of depth the Tigers have.
"We want to go in and play the way we play," O'Neill said, referring to his methodical approach. "If we need to run we'll run. We need to hit open shots . . . run our stuff."
It's easier said than done against Memphis. It might be even tougher if senior forward Bret Brielmaier cannot play. On Friday night, O'Neill said Brielmaier is "very questionable" for the game because of a shoulder injury.
"This is really a game we could use Bret in," O'Neill said. "(But) if he can't play we'll play somebody else."